After last week’s stellar all-round performance against Tonbridge Foresters, the question on the lips of those of a Ramblas persuasion was “How could they follow it up?”. With precedent suggesting a somewhat wayward approach to consistency, the answer was anyone’s guess. But then again, we’re always good for a surprise.
With Messrs Loughlin and Fitch being replaced by Doug Danks and Peter Ford, a pre-match pub meeting to discuss tactics and field positions (OK, OK, to discuss what’s in store for Sam’s stag do…) set the tone ahead of the game against St Mary’s Platt in sublime settings in Kent.
In a rare win at the toss, Skipper Stocks put the hosts into bat, knowing that he had quite the bowling armoury at his disposal. In the end, one bowler would prove ample.
Opening from the Pavilion End, Alex Danks was again in searing form from the start – snaffling a wicket courtesy of a short-pitched delivery that looped up high and was well claimed by wicket-keeper Sam Ford… despite the onrushing Ian Dacre threatening to put a spanner in the works.
The aforementioned Dacre bowled from the Field End and his first over was one of the finest not to garner a wicket, as three chances looped short or wide of a gully who was damned if he moved and damned if he stayed put, while a stumping chance also went begging. While a touch looser than previous weeks, there was still plenty good in his spell when on a good length that remained virtually unplayable.
A.Danks continued to test the batsmen with his pace, but the shorter deliveries were largely being fended by the batsmen. A tweak in the length then brought about another wicket when a teasing delivery on off-stump elicited an edge which rocketed through to older brother Tom at second slip who claimed a great catch above his head, before the fireworks really kicked off in his fifth and sixth overs…
First, he set the batsman up to leave him as confused as an octogenarian with an iPad before getting one to dart back between bat and pad to splay the stumps once more. This was shaping up to be a seminal spell of fast bowling and in the next over we really did see something special.
Confounding the new batsman once more with his pace, ball two saw the bowler again send the bails flying, while with the very next ball he castled the batsman again. Having seen the first Ramblas five-fer two weeks ago, we now had the second.. AND were on the cusp of a first Ramblas hat-trick. Not one to disappoint – especially on Father’s Day with dad Doug in the team – Alex created more Ramblas history by demolishing the batsman’s stumps once more, which were as defenseless as an unmanned buffet table in the presence of Geoff Parrett.
What a spell! We’ve been fortunate to witness some fine spells in the brief history of the Ramblas, but six for 11 from six overs (including a hat-trick) opening the bowling will take some beating.
Having seen the hosts’ top-order blown away by the Danksnado, Skipper Stocks changed up his bowling, replacing Dacre with Howard Hardy-King and Chris Thomas having the unenviable challenge of following Danks.
The former was in fine fettle, bamboozling the batsmen with his pace and bringing about a strong LBW shout, before switching to around the wicket on the final ball of his second over to rattle the ball into the stumps. From the other end, Thomas began with a maiden before Hardy-King underlined his fielding prowess in Thomas’s second over as the St Mary’s Platt batsmen called a suicidal second run and the ball was pinged back to Sam Ford to whip off the bails.
Hardy-King then claimed his second wicket by again dismantling the stumps, before D.Danks and Parrett came on to finish things off; the former unlucky with another LBW shout, before the latter got one to drift past the batsman’s attempted drive to clean up the tail and see the hosts finish on 88.
Scone in double quiche time
Thanks to the opening bowling blitz and the tidying up by the rest of the attack, the hosts suggested the Ramblas get straight out for their chase, and to have tea after 10 overs – which the pint-scenting Ramblas were more than happy with.
Sam Ford and Jonny Stocks went out and, while troubled by the odd ball that spat up or stayed low, went unfussily about their business to see off the 10 overs without loss and with 31 runs on the board – that majority scored by S.Ford on a pitch that had a terrifically slow outfield.
Soon after enjoying one of the finer spreads (three quiches would have left the absent Fitch positively drooling, while A.Danks showed as much mercy to the scones as he did the batters), the chase resumed, though the opening partnership was soon broken as Stocks departed for four as he nicked one behind for the ‘keeper to claim a smart one-handed catch to his right.
That brought in the safe hands of T.Danks who was his usual busy self, quickly off the mark and in tandem with S.Ford chipping away at the total, before the latter departed for a well-paced 48 as the bowler took a sharp catch off his own bowling.
Having been rattled by a couple of deliveries that he managed to fend off by any means necessary, new man Cooper departed without scoring to bring in Special Ground Fieldsman (TM) Peter Ford to accompany T.Danks.
Alas, the pair couldn’t quite finish the job, as the latter was well caught for 18 as he looked to up the ante and get us into the pub that bit sooner. Still, he departed with the visitors needing just eight to secure victory, as – rather generously – Thomas went to the middle; much to the chagrin of the hosts’ wicket-keeper who commented “This is ridiculous: we’ve got one batsman with Ray-Bans being joined by one in Aviators”. That’s just how we roll, my friend.
Barring some uncertainty first off with the running between the wickets, the pair saw the Ramblas home with little trouble; P.Ford nine not out and a trademark Thomas leg glance getting his solitary one (but also that all-important not out). The scorecard for the six-wicket win is here.
It was an almost exemplary all-round Ramblas performance, but the highlight was obviously that opening spell by A.Danks. Despite what was a low target, the runs still had to be knocked off and the hosts’ bowling attack certainly kept them in with a sniff of a chance; the Ford brother breaking the back of that chase, with more than a little help from T.Danks.
The glorious sunshine and picturesque setting topped off one of the finer days in a Ramblas shirt, and it’s on to next week when we welcome old friends London Saints to West Wickham.
Ramblas MVP: There’s not going to be any surprise twists here, we’re going with the obvious candidate and for very good reason. Alex Danks delivered a searing opening spell of fast bowling that left his team-mates watching on in excited anticipation and expectation, while the batsmen were largely just hoping he’d be taken out of the attack. Those figures of 6-1-11-6 are the finest by a Rambla and will live long in the memory.